Wall Street Ends Higher, Books Solid Weekly Gains

By FOXBusiness

U.S. equity markets booked gains on Friday after wavering near breakeven for most of the session, wrapping up hefty gains for the week.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33 points, or 0.2% to 17084. The S&P 500 ticked 1 point higher, or 0.07% to 2014, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 19 points, or 0.41% to 4830.

Technology and healthcare stocks led the sectors in the green, while energy was the biggest laggard.

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Wall Street lost some momentum in afternoon trading, but ultimately booked strong gains for the week, after a late rally in the prior session fueled in part by a strong performance from the energy sector and the release of the September FOMC minutes.

“[The fourth quarter] has begun with the best first quarterly week of trading in decades,” Peter Kenny, market strategist, wrote in a note. “As markets move further away from the lows of only weeks ago, it is increasingly likely that we may well see that year-end rally everyone seems to be talking about.”

Many of the big banks on the Street are calling for a year-end target of between 2000 and 2100 on the S&P. As investors continue to eye economic data, which, excluding the manufacturing sector, has come in relatively strong, they’ll also keep close tabs on action from the Federal Reserve, which is also standing firm on its decision to hold off on any interest rate hike until its dual objective of 2% inflation and full employment is met.

The Fed’s September meeting minutes tilted to the dovish end of the spectrum as central policymakers debated the effects of a slowing global economy led by China. However, collectively, the group said a case could be made for raising rates before the end of the year, but for now its “prudent” to wait for clarity on the economic front.

At a speech in New York on Friday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he still sees the central bank hiking rates before the end of the year as the economy “remains on a satisfactory track.” He left the door open to either an October or December move, and said “the data are giving off varied signals” which means central bankers will have to be “especially diligent monitoring incoming data.”

In recent action, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond fell 0.009 percentage point to 2.10%.

Still, the markets have found their way higher.

“Between a double bottom in the S&P 500, firming energy/crude prices, weak earnings priced into equities and a pessimistic outlook on Wall Street, markets are doing what they do best; confound those who think they know better,” Kenny said.

On the economic-data front, Wall Street digested the latest figures from the Commerce Department on import and export prices. September import prices fell 0.1%, but were better than the expected 0.5% decline; export prices declined by 0.7%, which was more than the anticipated 0.2% fall.

On the commodities front, global crude oil prices were mixed after surging to their highest level since July as traders looked to take some profits off the table. The commodity booked its best week since August, gaining 9%. U.S. prices ticked 20 cents higher to $49.63 a barrel, while Brent, the international benchmark, was trading near $52.75 a barrel.

Metals were mostly higher after Glencore, the international mining and trading company has come under intense market pressure in recent weeks, said it will cut its zinc production by a third and slash 500 jobs for mostly Australian workers.  Zinc prices jumped on the heels of the announcement.

Gold price traded up 1% to $1,155 a troy ounce, the highest mark since Aug. 21. Silver gained 0.34% to $15.82. Copper, meanwhile, jumped about 3% to $2.41 a pound.

Overseas, markets saw solid gains on the session. In Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks large-cap companies in the eurozone, rose 0.79%. The German Dax gained 1.04%, while the French CAC 40 jumped 0.54%, and the UK’s FTSE 100 saw a 0.65% rally.